How To Have 1000 Number Ones - The Easy Way

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Down Under

Another day, another charity shop. This time my continuing exploration of Leeds city centre took me to the British Heart Foundation store, where I was disappointed to find only a handful of 7” singles. On closer investigation, however, it turned out that most of these were Number Ones.

Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart by Marc Almond featuring special guest Gene Pitney was the odd one out, because as far as I’m aware neither Mr Almond nor Mr Pitney have ever appeared in ‘Neighbours’. The others were the first two chart-toppers by Kylie Minogue, I Should Be So Lucky and Hand On Your Heart, Jason Donovan’s debut Too Many Broken Hearts, and the duet between the two, Especially For You. I can only assume that these were donated by a former ‘Neighbours’ fanatic in an attempt to restore some kind of dignity to their life.

The selection of CD singles was also slim, but did provide a Number One in the form of the 1997 Children in Need version of Perfect Day, the 777th Number One, credited simply to Various Artists. Presumably no-one could be bothered to come up with any kind of band name, but the credit, though lazy, is appropriate. You can’t get much more various than this – Boyzone and Bono rub shoulders with rather more obscure artists such as Robert Cray and Burning Spear, all singing individual lines of the song. There are also appearances from instrumentalists including Courtney Pine and the Brodsky Quartet, and the song’s writer Lou Reed pops up to perform the first and last lines.

It was an interesting concept, but it’s a shame they didn’t pick a better song to perform, and we could have done without some of the more histrionic contributions from, among others, Tom Jones and Heather Small. They could learn a lot from the understated delivery of Emmylou Harris, who steals the show as far as I’m concerned. This is quite an impressive feat when you consider that she has only 4 seconds out of 223 in which to do it.

I also picked up a few compilation albums originally released as newspaper covermount CDs. As usual with such discs the selection is varied, and in this particular haul there is little to excite me. There are a couple of gems though, namely Feels Like I’m In Love by Kelly Marie (if you want a record that illustrates the term ‘classic pop single’, look no further), and Olive’s You’re Not Alone, one of the most surprising records to ever reach the top spot. I have a suspicion that the Olive track presented here is not the single mix, perhaps an album version, but hopefully at some point I will pick up the original single and be able to check this theory.

Another notable inclusion is Rosemary Clooney’s Mambo Italiano*, the 28th Number One, and this therefore becomes the oldest in the collection, which now consists of 369 Number Ones. Of these, 164 are the original releases. Where to next?

* One of three Number Ones with ‘Mambo’ in the title, but you probably already knew that.


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